I had planned to talk about my memoir writing last week but the week got away from me and now I am going to both write about my memoir and squeeze in some extra content since it’s two weeks in one. The monthly features for his supersized post are a book review and a pop culture recommendation. The book review is of Brit Bennett’s first novel “The Mothers.” For a review of Bennett’s second novel “The Vanishing Half” (read this previous post). The pop culture recommendation is for the SmartPhone language learning app Duo Lingo.
I have started to write in earnest in a journal I am keeping as I write my memoir. Writing in it has helped me crack the code on writing my memoir and what works for me.
What My Memoir Journal is and How I am using it
Since I have been enjoying producing little pen and watercolor art pieces for my Daily Doodle journal (you can read more about it here), I decided to lean into that artistic inclination and produce a doodle journal that corresponds with my memoir.
I took the visual outline/mind map that I did a while ago and am drawing each major section.
I have a page in my journal for each point in the above mind map. I created visuals that are helping me come up with inspiration to write. Usually the visuals are about stories I want to include. Since my TBI has made my memory very visual (read more about that here) this visual journal and outline really helps focus my memories and attention.
Below are brief glimpses of several of the pages (I didn’t try to make these pictures easy to read on purpose… keeping the content of my memoir private for now).
So far I think I need to establish a routine of drawing a journal page and then immediately (while it’s still fresh in my mind) write the corresponding story in my memoir. For me, if I establish a routine and pattern I am much more likely to follow-through. And follow-through has never been my strong suit.
Monthly Feature of the Week (Last Week’s Belated Book Review)
I recently reviewed Brit Bennett’s second novel “The Vanishing Half” (read my review of that book here) and my enjoyment of that novel and Bennett’s writing inspired me to seek out her first novel, “The Mothers.” Published in 2016, “The Mothers” is the story of a teen girl the year after her mother dies by suicide and jumps forward to several years after that.
This novel was a little less polished than “The Vanishing Half” yet the raw talent and power of Bennett’s writing shine through. She used some of the same techniques in this novel that she perfected in “The Vanishing Half.” Techniques such as alternating who the narrator is and showing the characters through a longer period. Just like in her second novel, some characters are so beautifully written that they just leap off the page (and consequently I preferred chapters where they were featured). I attended a virtual book event where Bennett was the featured author. The more I write myself the more I like to see the “behind baseball” of the writing process.
So if you’re looking for a new and exciting contemporary author, I recommend Brit Bennett.
Monthly Feature of the Week: Pop Culture Recommendation- Duolingo
This recommendation is less pop culture and really more education: I am recommending the language learning app/website Duolingo. I have been using it to learn German. I took four years of German in high school but that was a while ago (ahem! 👵🏻). And after my accident (and severe TBI) I really wondered if I would be able to learn or speak a foreign language again (because of my severe hearing loss/distortions and my slower cognitive functions). However, Duolingo is free (for the basic plan which is perfectly acceptable) so I thought I would give it a try. I have been doing it for about 15 minutes daily for several months and am making great strides. There is an audio component to it but if I’m not in a super quiet environment and/or my cognitive functions are feeling slow, I can easily skip over the audio.
It has been a very positive and affirming experience so I plan to continue on learning more languages once I have completed the Duolingo German course. Next I plan to do French and then Italian or Spanish!